When I was 21, I ran away from home.
I was a university graduate, legal adult and of drinking age, but I ran. I had my parents' blessing, support and encouragement, but I ran. We're not talking stick an apple in a knapsack and take a stroll down the driveway. We're talking pack everything you own, get on a plane and move 3,000 miles away.
There was a part of me that wanted to drop everything and start an entirely new life. I didn't want to deal with the mess of a complicated social circle, the fear of becoming like "everyone else" who gave up their dreams and stayed, stagnated. I knew I wouldn't be happy if I had stayed in Washington. I had too much adventuring to do. I wanted to live, to see the world.
I had wonderful reasons to go. I had been accepted to an amazing photography school on the east coast, and I desperately wanted to attend. I had to take a step out on my own. An unsteady step, but an ultimately successful one.
So I lived. I saw the world, and I continue to do so. At some point during this process, however, I discovered something essential. Whatever it was I was looking for? I wasn't ever going to find it unless I quieted myself and looked within.
Not to sound too Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I ran from home, only to discover that what I was searching for was within me the entire time.
Do not mistake me, I wouldn't change the course of this journey for anything. I loved every moment (even the ones I hated) of my time away. The growth that I experienced over that time is irreplaceable.
The best part? I found my soulmate. Or maybe he found me. I could not ask for more than that.
One of the most important things that I learned was that I actually like my family. I like spending time with them. I like being close (geographically and emotionally) to them. I like knowing that I have their support no matter what. Go figure.
Family means something different to everyone you ask. I feel incredibly blessed to have come from a family that has taught me most of what I know in life (or most of the important stuff, at least). They have lovingly stood by my side and supported me in all of my endeavors, fought with me through hard times, and remained patient with me as I grew and matured into who I am today. I'm pretty sure they're still patient with me, from time to time. For this, and for each one of them, I am incredibly thankful.
That being said, the following portraits of family were taken on Christmas day. It was lovely to spend these moments with each of them, talking, joking, moving past the dynamic of photographer - camera - subject and waiting for each of their personalities to shine through.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” R.W.E.